Gone Before 30: Stars Who Died Young

Sid Vicious, 21

Alan Jones once said, "Sid, on image alone, is what all punk rests on." Sex Pistols' bass player and eventual solo artist Sid Vicious — otherwise known as John Simon Ritchie — was everything that the punk movement stood for: excess, anarchy, violence, total and absolute destructiveness and apathy. His personal philosophy of "live fast, die young" led him to a precarious lifestyle of drug use. After the suspicious death of his then-girlfriend Nancy Spungen in a New York hotel room, which Vicious said he could not recall because of a drugged stupor he was in that night, he was arrested, hospitalized at Bellevue Hospital for an attempted suicide, released, then sent to Rikers Island jail for assault. While there, he was weaned off his heroin addiction and released Feb. 1, 1979. Upon returning home, Vicious obtained heroin from his mother and overdosed that night. He was revived once only to have his heart slow to a stop. In the end, his death at 21 further romanticized his tragic life of junkie glamour.

Jim Morrison, 27

Morrison — called a "rock god" by the music industry to this day — was a poet, writer and film director as well as the lead singer and lyricist for psychedelic rock band The Doors. He was born into a military family, and his nomadic childhood helped shape his music. Morrison credited a car accident he saw as a young child, in which a group of American Indians were injured or possibly killed, as one of the most formative experiences of his life. (He wrote about the accident in the Doors songs "Peace Frog" and "The Ghost Song.")

Morrison joined The Doors in 1965 and released six studio albums with the band before moving to Paris in 1971, where depression may have led him to develop a heroin addiction. He died in Paris in July 1971 at age 27 from what many believe was a heroin overdose. The absence of an official autopsy has left unanswered many questions surrounding his death.

Janis Joplin, 27

Ranked No. 46 in Rolling Stone's 2004 list of the 50 Greatest Artists of All Time, Janis Joplin was an accomplished singer and songwriter in the 1960s hippie heyday. While her career break came as the lead singer for Big Brother and the Holding Company in the '60s, she truly became famous as a solo artist singing the blues, folk music and rock. But behind her rich, powerful voice and great lyrical talents was a troubled star. Joplin was reported to have been deeply concerned about how the public would receive her and became prone to drinking and using drugs as a way to cope with her nerves. Sometime between late night Oct. 3 and early Oct. 4, 1970, Joplin, 27, died in a Los Angeles hotel room. The cause of death was determined to be a heroin overdose, possibly accelerated with alcohol. Joplin was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

James Dean, 24

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